[What follows is excerpted from a report published in today’s edition of the Financial Times:]
The annual release of government papers is considerably lighter than usual after the Cabinet Office delayed the release of thousands of documents detailing Margaret Thatcher’s most controversial period in Number 10.
The decision to change the process by which historical Cabinet papers are released has raised questions, as two senior ministers — Oliver Letwin and John Whittingdale — were both advisers to Thatcher’s government during the period in question. The government has denied that either was involved in the decision to withhold some papers.
Until recently the justice ministry was responsible for deciding which papers would be released and for overseeing the operation of the National Archives, which stores the documents. In September, control over the National Archives was shifted to the culture department, led by Mr Whittingdale, and the Cabinet Office, led by Mr Letwin.
Just 58 files covering the 1986-88 period are being published this week, and they do not cover a number of the most important events of the time.
These include the 1987 general election, the decision to press ahead with the introduction of the poll tax, the Black Monday stock market crash, a ban on the publication of the intelligence exposé Spycatcher, the SAS shooting of suspected IRA terrorists in Gibraltar, and the Lockerbie bombing.
These files will instead be released in batches over the course of 2016, according to the Cabinet Office. Neither the National Archives nor the Cabinet Office have set out exactly when the files will be made available to the public.